UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE
29 Sep 08. Northrop Grumman Corporation’s MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV) system demonstrates maturity as it moves into the second year of low-rate initial production (LRIP) with a $32.9m contract award from the U.S. Navy’s Naval Air Systems Command. The company received the award recently for the second of three planned LRIP buys. A U.S. Department of Defense Acquisition Decision Memorandum for Milestone C authorized LRIP 1 for the Fire Scout VTUAV. A series of program milestones needed to be met in order for Fire Scout to qualify for the LRIP 2 award. Key requirements included a demonstration of Fire Scout electro-optical/infrared capability using a Tactical Common Data Link, which was successfully completed in August.
29 Sep 08. Building on its unrivalled position as a proven VTOL Maritime UAS, the CAMCOPTER® S-100 has recently completed its toughest test to date, three weeks of demanding flights in the Baltic Sea onboard the new K130 Class Corvettes of the German Navy. The German Forces have, as do other NATO nations, a recognised capability gap for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) platforms that in particular could be filled by unmanned aerial systems. As part of the German Navy’s strategy to fill this gap in the maritime environment and use Unmanned Air Vehicle Systems (UAS) in their future Force Mix, the German MoD decided to conduct integration trials of the CAMCOPTER® S-100 onboard the new K130 Class Corvettes of the German Navy. In particular, these trials were to substantiate the integration and operation of a
Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) UAS and to start to formulate the Concept of Operations (CONOPS) for employing this UAS. After a thorough phase of investigation and market research by the German MoD, which took place during 2006 and 2007, the CAMCOPTER® S-100 from the Austrian Company Schiebel was chosen as a basis for further work.
26 Sep 08. Herley Industries, Inc.’s Ft. Walton Beach subsidiary, Micro Systems, Inc., has been awarded contracts valued at $8.2m from Naval Air Systems Command PMA 208 of Patuxent River, MD. The award is for additional system hardware and target transponders to replace units that have been consumed in normal operations of the System for Naval Target Control (SNTC) and for sustaining logistics and engineering support of the products that have previously been delivered. (Source: ASD Network)
25 Sep 08. iRobot Corp. received an additional order under its current xBot contract with the U.S. Army Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation (PEO STRI) totalling $13.3m. This new investment marks the sixth order under the xBot contract, bringing the total contract value to
approximately $63.6m. (Source: ASD Network)
22 Sep 08. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Reaper Numbers Confirmed. The Defence Equipment Minister confirmed (22 Sep 08) that two Reaper UAV are available for operations and a third was expected to be available from “early 2009”. The MoD is in the process of acquiring a further two Reapers. Approval has been obtained from the US Congress for the acquisition of additional Reapers, but there is no commitment to such acquisition. The Minister added that demonstrator programmes such as Taranis and Mantis are “aimed at exploring the scope for affordable indigenous capability”.
Comment: ‘Defence News’ (October 2008) notes that the Reaper UAV are to be “weaponised in the near future with Hellfire missiles and guided bombs”.(Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0838, 29 Sep 08)